Tag Archives: Shortwave Radio

The Eton Satellit: a short history & first impressions as a DX workhorse

Hi there, I’m sure some of you will read the title of this post and conclude ‘that’s exactly that the Eton Satellit could never be’. I was of the same opinion, having read many reviews online suggesting this little radio on shortwave at least was essentially a bit ‘duff’ as we say in the UK. The fundamental flaws identified when it was first released included, but were not limited to – a general lack of sensitivity, poor AM SYNC stability and poor AM SYNC audio, poor filtering, particularly in SSB mode, muting whilst tuning, poor display visibility in sunlight, poor AGC timing…the list goes on.

On MW and FM there was a general consensus that this little radio performed very well, but with all the other flaws highlighted here, it certainly did not represent good value for money. A number of reviewers concluded that the Eton was an insult to the ‘Satellit’ brand. Oh dear, yet another shot in the foot for Eton then. User perception was confirmed when I posted my first reception video using this radio –  a number of my Oxford Shortwave Log subscribers got in touch to say they were essentially scared off buying this radio at the time and that this was of course driven by the negative reviews that proliferated the internet.

 

Since the original launch, however, it would appear that firmware updates have improved this receiver immesurably, although I am quite certain this news hasn’t really filtered out into the market because there still appears to be a consensus that the newest Satellit is ‘not worthy’ so-to-speak. So, how did I come to buy a Satellit, a decision that could very well be perceived as risky to say the least, even foolhardy?! Well, one of my DXing fellows on YouTube (check out his YouTube channel – it’s full of amazing DX) posted a video of his recently purchased Satellit in a number of tests against the (largely) brilliant Tecsun PL-880. The Satellit equalled or bettered the PL-880 on MW and SW. I was very surprised at this outcome, for the same reasons as everyone else – it wasn’t supposed to be that good.

Even though the poster himself suggested the Eton might not be classified as a classic Satellit, it’s interesting to note that another DXer with three decades of experience and someone who’s owned the Satellit 400, 500 and 700 models concluded the opposite and that for various reasons, the newest Satellit is a far better performer with weak DX than those vintage receivers ever were. In his experience, the classic Satellit receivers always delivered excellent audio and thus were brilliant for listening to international broadcasters. However, for weak DX the Satellit 500 didn’t perform as well as the budget Sangean ATS-803A  and the ICF-2001D wiped the floor with the 700. So, is the Eton worthy of the Satellit branding? Perhaps the problem is it’s just so small – I mean compared to the Satellit 800….you could confuse the Eton to be it’s remote control – if it had one! It is diminutive and I’ve purposely taken a picture of it with my calculator to demonstrate this. It’s actually not much bigger than the Tecsun PL-310ET, so in terms of form-factor, definitely a departure from Satellits of the past.

 

What about performance? I tested the Eton at the woods I use for DXing, with a 50 metre longwire. In the space of a couple of hours, I’d recorded ABC Northern Territories on 2325, 2485 and 4835 kHz, Pyongyang BS, North Korea on 3320 kHz, Angola on 4950 kHz, Guinea on 9650 kHz and a weak signal from the Solomon Islands on 5020 kHz. The signals from ABC on 2485 kHz, Angola and Guinea were stronger and clearer than I’d ever heard previously. Pyongyang on 3320 kHz and the Solomon Islands were personal firsts.

The Eton performed way beyond my expectations and I hope this post will go some way to restoring the repuation of this brilliant little radio, which in my opinion fully deserves to be called a Satellit. More testing is necssary, including direct comparisons with other receivers – all of that to come in due course. Text links and embedded reception videos follow. Thanks for reading/watching/listening and I wish you all great DX!



Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

VORW Radio International now broadcasting weekly over shortwave

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, John, who hosts TheReportOfTheWeek channel on YouTube and writes:

My radio program “VORW Radio International” is now regularly back on shortwave, heard weekly to Europe and North America.

VORW stands for “Voice Of theReportoftheWeek” – TheReportOfTheWeek is my YouTube Channel which mainly features reviews of various items, as well as talk programs. This is the radio service thereof.

The program features a mixture of talk and music, and is a request-driven show, so the music has a great deal of variety to it. You can expect music from any time and genre to get played!

The broadcast schedule is as follows:

Thursday 2000 UTC – 2100 UTC – 6070 kHz To Europe
Friday 0100 UTC – 0200 UTC – 7490 kHz To North America

If you do listen, please send feedback and reception reports to “vorwinfo@gmail.com“.

Very cool, John! Happy to hear you have a regular schedule to Europe and North America. We’ll be listening!

A Replacement Whip Antenna for Sony ICF-SW7600G

The Sony ICF-SW7600G (Photo: Universal Radio)

This is a guest-post by Eric, WD8RIF.

I’ve had my Sony ICF-SW7600G for almost twenty years. Early on, my very young son broke the receiver’s telescoping whip antenna and it was a simple and inexpensive matter to order a replacement whip assembly from Universal Radio, the Sony dealer from whom I had purchased the radio.

Recently, the receiver’s antenna failed at the pivot-point. First, the factory-supplied countersunk screw’s Phillips-head stripped out through repeated attempts to tighten the pivot over the years until finally I  had to replace the screw. The best replacement screw I could find was a 2mm x 6 Allen-head screw from an R/C hobby shop that appeared to work fine until I managed to strip the antenna’s threads through over-tightening this screw. (Perhaps the Allen wrench simply provided too much torque for such a small screw.)

Clearly, it was time to actually buy a replacement antenna. This turned out to be easier said than done. Universal Radio is no longer a Sony distributor and has no access to parts for Sony products. A visit to the Sony website disclosed that service-parts are handled by two other companies, neither of which could provide the antenna—a surprising thing to discover since I think the antenna used in the ICF-SW7600G is the same part which is used in the current-model ICF-SW7600GR. A search on Amazon disclosed a seller offering the part for over $52, far more than I wanted to pay. Perhaps belatedly, I thought to check eBay where I found several listings, some offering the genuine Sony part shipped directly from Japan. I was intrigued, however, in the listing by stone_deng (link) who offered a non-OEM replacement antenna, shipped from Virginia, for $16.80 with free shipping. The description claimed the antenna was a perfect-fit replacement. Figuring the price would make this a good gamble, and because I wouldn’t have to wait weeks for delivery from Japan, I placed an order for one on a Monday evening and the postman delivered the antenna to my mailbox the following Friday. (I noticed as I was composing this post that stone_deng has raised the price for this antenna to $19.90 with free shipping.)

In comparing the replacement antenna with my original Sony part, the only difference I could see is that the metal tip of the replacement antenna is of a different style. Dimension-wise, the two antennas appeared to be identical.

Installation of the new antenna was simple. A single screw secures the antenna to the radio.

Remove this screw and pull the antenna straight out of the receiver.

It should be possible to slip the new antenna into the hole, twisting it to properly line up the mounting-flange, and run the screw back into place. In my case, the new antenna insisted on snagging on something inside the radio and I ended up removing the rear-panel entirely to install the new antenna rather than try to force the antenna into place. Fortunately, the rear panel is easily removed.

Remove the battery-cover and the four AA cells. Remove the five black Phillips-head screws that are marked on the rear panel with arrows. The rear panel will then lift straight up. Insert the new antenna into its hole, lining up the mounting flange with the screw-hole, and insert and tighten the screw. Carefully place the rear panel into place, lining up the four screw holes, and insert and tighten the five screws. Re-insert the AA cells and replace the battery cover.

I’m hopeful that this non-OEM antenna will prove to be rugged but time will tell. If this antenna proves to be inferior than the original in some way, I will post a follow-up to this post.

Obligatory disclaimer: I don’t know stone_deng, and I don’t have any financial interest in his company or products.

Eric McFadden (WD8RIF) is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Click here to visit Eric’s website which features QRP operation. Eric is based in Athens, Ohio.

The diminutive but brilliant Sony ICF-SW100: a few autumn/winter DX catches

Hi there, I posted an article on this brilliant little radio a few months ago because it had demonstrated a level of performance way beyond my expectations. Notwithstanding it’s incredibly small size the DX results I obtained with it were beyond my ICF-SW55 and up there with the iconic ICF-2001D. Armed with synchronous detection, selectable side bands, SSB, CW and sensitivity seemingly boyond it’s tiny form factor I can’t recommend this radio highly enough.

 

Originally introduced into the market in 1993 and discontinued in 2005, the ICF-SW100 won’t ever be repeated – a point I made in my original post, but of course they are available on eBay and prices remain robust for what is now essentially a vintage receiver. Unfortunately, I don’t get to use my ICF-SW100 very much as I have various other receivers and have been involved in antenna building/testing and MW DX for the past few months. However, on the couple of occasions when I have taken the Sony on a mini DXpedition, it’s resulted in some fine DX. As demonstrated in the examples below, Mali, Guinea, Alaska and Japan are amongst the more difficult signals to copy in Europe and yet the ICF-SW100 delivered them! Text links to reception videos on the Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel follow below and futher down you will find embedded videos. Thanks for reading/watching/listening and I wish you all great DX!



Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

DXpedition antenna testing: the Bonito Boni whip and a 240 metre barbed wire fence

 

Hi there, a few days ago I posted some reception videos comparing the performance of the Boni whip with a 30 metre longwire antenna at home, with a further check against the performance of the H field Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop. The conclusion of those tests was essentially confirmation that E field antennas don’t usually perform very well under a blanket of ‘electrosmog’ and that only on Longwave, did the Boni whip prevailed over the longwire; otherwise there was no usable difference in performance between the two.

                         Sony ICF-SW55 receiver                                     ‘Quiet’ location for Boni whip test

This prompted a number of my subscribers to ask when I would be taking the Boni whip on a DXpedition for an outdoor test against the Wellbrook and either a substantial longwire, or the 200 metre Beverage. Time is limited right now for a full test, however, I managed to throw together a kit of parts necessary to run a quick set of comparison tests with the whip, against the barbed wire fence I use for ad hoc DXing when out walking the dog! Over a period of an hour or so, I managed to copy a few stations on 31 and 49 metres and thus recorded signals using the Sony ICF-SW55 receiver with the Boni whip and barbed wire fence. Now previously, I have used that fence as an antenna for the excellent little Tecsun PL-310ET, with some nice results. However, after this series of tests, my views on the fence have changed a little. Obviously it might be somewhat directional and earthed along it’s length, neither of which I’ve checked, however, notwithstanding these performance-related factors, the performance of the whip which at home had been terrible, surprised me greatly. Text links to a set-up video and the reception videos on my Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel follow directly below, with embedded videos at the end of the post. 

Finally, if you’re looking for a well performing, compact and portable active antenna for outdoor use in quiet environments and of course, DXpeditions, I would definitely recommend the Boni whip. Just bear in mind that the SNR it delivers at home might not be usable for anything more than casual listening.

Thanks for watching/listening/reading and I wish you all great DX!



Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.